Dear Snarky – Where There’s a Will There’s a Way to Drama

Dear Snarky, 

My husband and I have two daughters (grown women now) and we have always tried to be fair in our dealings with them. Recently we updated our will (We’re both 72.) and the attorney we worked with advised us to go over the will with our daughters now so there would be no surprises after we pass.

This sounded like a good idea so we told our daughters who both live fairly close to us to come over for coffee because we wanted to go over our estate plan with them. During this meeting we went over everything. The will is simple in that any remaining assets will be split 50/50 between our two daughters with some bequests to our grandchildren and charities.

Things got really ugly when we explained that we have a provision in the will that our youngest daughter will get less money if at the time of our deaths she hasn’t paid back the money she has borrowed from us which is no small change. 

My husband and I think this this fair since we have never given our older daughter (since she has been an adult) any significant amounts of money and our youngest daughter has “borrowed” (We made her sign legal documents every time we gave her money to let her know it was a loan.) close to $250,000 to bail out a failing business and some other issues and has made no attempt to pay back any of the money. The will stipulates that she will get half of the assets minus the money she owes us at the time of our deaths. 

We really put a lot of thought into it because we didn’t think it was fair for one daughter to get almost a quarter of a million dollars more than the other. Also, she still has time to pay it back or she can just know that that amount will be subtracted from her inheritance. 

Now my youngest daughter is telling us “we’re dead to her” and we’re “never going to see her kids again” and how we’ve “always loved her sister more.” It’s just such a mess and I don’t know what to do to move past this issue. Is there any advice you can give me to help resolve this.

Signed, Sad Grandmother

Dear Sad,

My advice is pretty simple. Do nothing. It sounds like your youngest daughter has relied heavily on you and your husband her entire life and I bet, truth be told, it’s been a whole lot more than $250,000. This means after her temper tantrum subsides she’ll come back around because she needs you for something from help with her kids to lunch and a little shopping  – where surprise, surprise, you’ll pick up the tab.

The fact that your youngest daughter signed legal documents in regard to the money you loaned her gives her zero room to pull the “I didn’t know” or “you didn’t tell me” routine. I actually applaud you for trying to keep it fair. Because what’s not fair is one sister getting a quarter of a million dollars more than her sibling. (Honestly, I’m having a hard time relating because these are issues from a financial stratosphere that I’m not a member of. 😳)

That said, beware of your younger daughter trying to manipulate you/guilt you into changing your will because I’m not saying I can predict the future, but my crystal ball is telling me she’s going to give it all she’s got.

Good luck!


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